Without hard, there is no easy

Photo0066Without hard, there is no easy. That’s what I was saying to myself yesterday as I struggled up hill after hill on the Bath Marathon.

It’s one of my little mantras. Those things you say to encourage yourself when the going is tough.

And tough it certainly was. More than 2,000 feet of climbing, mostly off road, up steep muddy, stony tracks, sometimes requiring hands and feet to make progress. Devon’s infamous Grizzly Run feels like a cuddly teddy bear by comparison.

I was hoping to plod round at an easy slow pace in about five hours. That target quickly went out of the window and I focussed instead on my end goal, crossing the finish line. A PB being a personal best, I guess you could call this run my PW – personal worst, as I made it in something over six hours. My loyal mum, bless her, one of the few spectators remaining to cheer me on.

All the way round runners were asking each other: “Are you enjoying this?” There were a mixture of answers, some unprintable.

Strangely, I did kind of enjoy it. It was such a tough challenge, one that you really had to get out of your comfort zone to rise to. The front runners, some of whom passed me on a loop, looked exhausted too – it being even tougher at the top.

I don’t find hill climbing easy. But I always enjoy the view when I get there. Without a hill, there is no climb. Without a climb, there is no summit. Without a summit, your view is always more limited. The stunning panorama over Bath was certainly worth the climb – even doing it twice.

As well as challenges in running, I’ve reached quite a difficult juncture in my OCD therapy. The detailed discussions over many weeks have uncovered some memories from childhood, which my therapist considers sufficiently troubling to me, to try a different type of technique.

It’s got a long confusing name – simplified to EMDR. Effectively it uses eye movements to help you reprocess traumatic experiences, so they move from the regular everyday part of your brain to your memory bank. Using my computer spam analogy, I guess it’s like, instead of them always being in your inbox, you file them away in a holding folder.

We’ve done one so far – a little minor one. It was from an early hospital visit when I had my tonsils out, aged around six or seven, and one of the ward staff was quite horrible, leaving me with nightmares about the whole event.

The therapy was amazing. We went back there on an imaginary train, and I was able to walk into the picture of my past and sort it out. I was able to make horrible nurse go away, leaving my upset younger self to sleep peacefully.

I’ve still got some other childhood monsters – one in particular that regularly haunts me – waiting to be tackled.

I’m not sure how I’m going to thwart them. But if I can run a PW hilly marathon and keep smiling, I hope I can chase away all of my demons and laugh at them as they disappear.

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